A picture is worth a thousand words

IMG_9185Perhaps this cherry blossom photo sums it up more perfectly than I can articulate in words. Yes it’s extremely frustrating to have traveled so far and come so close to fall short of a PR…after 12.4 hard fought miles I hit exactly down to the second my life time 20k PR tying my previously set American Record from 2014. I am also about two weeks shy of cherry blossom peak season here in Japan and while the occasional bloomed tree is a delight to behold I can’t help but focus on what’s not in bloom passionately longing to witness the full bloom spectacle in all its glory. Yes a small PR in the 10k is nice and tying my PR is in no way a bad way to start the season it’s just I hoped and fought for so much more. Japan racingBut instead of looking at the glass half empty it’s time to see it half filled…actually it’s only a fraction full…I hopefully have, if all goes well, another four 20k races this season. Two of them will be major international races ripe with competition. While the remaining races aren’t expected to be raced under ideal weather conditions they are another opportunity to duke it out with the World’s best. So what were the positive takeaways from today’s race:
1) 10k PR
2) tied my 20k American Record
3) led and pushed the pace of the race for 15k or so
4) successfully took in fluids and had only a minor colitis attack over in two waves of about 3hrs

Point 3 is the biggest accomplishment that deserves a gold star. I am a competitor who rises to the challenge in a race and unfortunately the flip side is I often do poor solo. Today after a couple of changes for the first 5k between people falling back and people moving up I was the pack pace pusher for the next 13k+. This is more or less new to me as last time when I walked this pace I probably only pushed the pace for 6k or so of the entire race and was able to draft off the work of other athletes or hunt down ones who started off too ambitiously. Today I was very grateful to have a pack of people on my heals…while I could have done without the constant clipping of my heals and kicking of my midsole it definitely helped keep me on pace. The odd thing about this group was the 2-4other Japanese girls were content to walk a slower pace if they took the lead and I drafted but we’re literally up my butt and hitting my arm swing when I went up front. This was definitely irritating but I guess they were all racing for place and not so much time like I was. Perhaps this is why missing breaking my PB is so frustrating because I fought so hard mentally not to settle on the pace when it would have been very easy to have fallen prey to that temptation. But nonetheless I’m proud of the way I fought to keep pushing and even when slowing down I refused to settle into a comfort zone rhythm.  This experience was very valuable and will only aid me later this season when competing internationally. After all I flew out to Japan to race in this competition to A) have a great shot at favorable racing conditions conducive for a PB and B) gain invaluable international racing experience.

Last take away was I also successfully fueled my body for a non-ideal race start time. Due to my GI issues an 11:35am race start time meant eating dinner at 7:00pm then another slightly smaller meal again at 11:35pm. I’ve found over the past year or so that I cannot go more than 12hrs without a large meal before training hard or racing the 10-20k. I topped off my fuel supply with a half drink of my nutritional shake at 4:30am followed by the last half at 6:30am and a pack of Cliff Chews at 8am. This prevented me from feeling drained and hungry at the start and during the race. I still need to empty the tank slightly better but all in all another successfully executed prerace fueling strategy!

There are plenty of more trees left to blossom for me this season, stay tuned I know there is more beauty to come!

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